"Oh, crap, I just remembered something!" James exclaimed in panic as he grabbed on to both sides of his head. Behind his glasses his eyes widened to the point his friends thought an invisible air source was inflating them.
The other four in the room turned their heads toward them; the friendly, casual atmosphere felt like it had been stabbed through the heart once James released that outburst.
"What, do you have a giant project that's due tomorrow?" Victor asked in a dull, yet very confused tone. He could think of no other reason that could warrant such a random exclamation.
"No…it's…remember that Kole guy?!"
"Who?" Arthur asked.
Jerome perked up himself and snapped his head in Arthur's direction. "My good friend, how could you forget who Kole is, assuming, of course, that the Kole young Mr. Needham speaks of and the one I recall are the same being!"
Just a minute ago (literally) it had been a casual and easy Sunday night for four boys and one girl. Victor, James, Jerome, Arthur, and Arthur's girlfriend, Patty, were enjoying their final hours of the weekend at Victor's house. Tomorrow was Monday, meaning all five of them would have to return to their walls of confinement to learn facts and materials they deemed completely useless. It didn't help that it was the second semester of their senior year and the obligatory laziness was beginning to set in.
"You know, Arthur! Kole?! That guy with the weird suit who attacked us in the mall around Christmas time!?"
"What about him?" Arthur pressed.
…And this school year had been anything but normal for them. The four boys and Patty had experienced more than their share of weirdos ever since they began their final year of high school back in September, the first example of which was a man named Kole. The boys didn't realize it back in August when they first encountered him, but Kole was acting as a living "statue" in a cemetery on Stone Hill in a northern area of the town of Amesborough. It wasn't until much later when the kids learned that the "statue" was just Kole in a set of body armor that could change color to match the environment around him or anything that was touching his suit. They wouldn't have given the guy a second thought, until he spotted them in the mall around Christmas time and attacked them. They learned here he had a partner-a gruesome looking woman named Marie, and for some reason the two of them wanted them (the four boys in the room) dead. The most confusing aspect of it all was when they overheard Kole saying something along the lines of, "It should be ready in March" when they last encountered him.
"You don't remember what he said?" James asked in disbelief. "He said he had some big plan and that he should have something ready by March!"
The other four in the room were just as quiet as they were puzzled for a few seconds.
"And?..." Victor asked, making it apparent he had no idea what James was talking about.
"Tomorrow is March!" James exclaimed as he threw his arms in the air like a fired up preacher. "Whatever Kole was planning, he's probably almost finished with it!"
"What, you think he's gonna try to blow up the world, or something?" Arthur suggested, revealing how little he cared about whatever James was fretting about. "I don't think Kole is like any of the bad guys in your video games."
"I…I dunno!" James insisted. "I'm just worried he's up to something and we might be the only ones who can stop him!"
Arthur had an "are you kidding me?" look on his face. "Okay…James?"
"Now you're really making it sound like you think this is one of your video games. We're just regular, everyday, run-of-the-mill kids."
"Thank you, Captain Redundancy," Victor jabbed with his arms crossed.
Arthur acted like he didn't even hear that remark. "Seriously, James, I don't think we have anything to be worried about."
"You sure?" James whimpered. "Because if a crazy guy like that has been working on something that could be done in, like, six hours, and we're the only ones who know about it, I think we should at least do something."
"James, if we do that we'll just be begging for trouble," Victor tried bringing him back down to Earth. "He's a super scientist. He probably has, like, super high powered laser rifles and robots that shoot missiles from halfway across the world!"
Arthur groaned and buried his face in his hands. "You two are giving me headaches."
"Come on, Arthur!" James pleaded one final time. His voice was filled with desperation, truly fearing there would be major consequences if they didn't take action against Kole.
With one last groan, Arthur gave as an excuse, "It's a school night, you know."
"Oh, come on. Who cares if we don't get any sleep? We're gonna be tired in first period tomorrow anyway. If Kole's really up to something dangerous, I think we need to hit him now!"
"You know, I think I'm with James on this one," Victor decided. He walked over to where James was sitting and put his hand on James' shoulder. "If we're the only ones who know about Kole's plans, I say we go and try to stop'em."
"Vick, listen to me!" Arthur sternly commanded. "First of all, we don't even know what Kole might be trying to do. Second, we don't know if he's going to finish it at midnight on the dot on the very first day of March! Third, if we really think we need to be getting ourselves involved in this, don't you think it'd be smarter to get someone like the police? Isn't your old man an officer, James?"
James didn't waste any time before admitting, "Alright, you got me on the first two. But if we go to the police, it's gonna be impossible to get them to take us seriously. And even if they did, well…then we'd have to do all that publicity stuff and our answer how we found out about it, and it would just be a complete mess."
"I don't think you could make less sense if you tried."
"Oh, whatever," Victor ignored his friend's complaints. "I think James is onto something."
"I think you both are out of your mind," Jerome interrupted.
"Thank you," Arthur loudly exclaimed.
James didn't look too deterred. "Fine. You don't think we should go after Kole? Whatever. Vick and I can go take'em down on our own."
Arthur's face was taken over by a dull, heated glare. "You can't be serious."
"We will?" Victor asked, not expecting James would volunteer only the two of them.
"Sure," James answered like there was no problem. "It'll still be two against one, won't it?"
"I'm pretty sure Kole's got a bunch of fancy weapons and stuff that'll make him tough to take down even we've have him outnumbered," Victor noted. "Besides, doesn't he have that freaky looking woman to help him out?"
"Oh…right, I forgot about her," James recalled after Marie slipped his mind. "Gee, this might be tougher than I thought."
Victor and James continued wondering to themselves how they could attack Kole's underground lair and put an end to whatever scheme he may have been planning without doing anything they would regret…or anything that would leave a permanent stain on their consciences.
As they weighed their options, Arthur continued watching them in disbelief. "…You guys can't really be thinking about taking Kole out on your own."
"For the last time, Arthur. Yes, we are!" James answered.
"Fine! If you guys are really going in, I'm going with you!" Arthur decided as if he hadn't spent any time at all making up his mind.
Jerome gasped. "Arthur, should you fail then I will be the only one of us left!"
"What, you think we're gonna die if we go down there?" James asked.
With a loud laugh, Jerome replied, "My friend! You do not go sneaking into the secret lair of a mad scientist and expect to come out fully in one piece, do you!?...But alas, if you are all going, then I shall go with you!"
In a brief moment, the excitement returned to James' face. "You will? For real?"
"But of course. It would be quite humbling and unbecoming of me if I chose not to accompany you on an adventure to the field of the dead and to not lend you my aid!"
"Sweet!" James clapped his hands together. "Now we can figure out the bad guy's plan and take'em down!"
"Sheesh, when did you become an adventurer?" Victor asked with a humored grin. "You've never been this excited about something before."
"I've never gone underground to uncover a freak's plan before," James countered.
"Hey! Are you guys forgetting about someone?" asked Patty from the side of the room.
The four boys turned and noticed Patty was staring at them with her arms crossed. She looked like she was doing her best to be smiling about something that was actually bugging her a lot on the inside.
Jerome couldn't help but snort. "Are you serious?"
Patty's expression went from being a resentful smirk to a complete grimace. "…Excuse me?"
"Sorry, Patty. No offense, but I don't think you could handle it," Jerome admitted. He seemed to be taking a break from being as wordy and dramatic as possible for the time being.
"Oh, really?" Patty asked. "Try me. Come over here and try to hit me."
"What, are you kidding me? If I lay a finger on you, Arthur'll give me a black eye! I wouldn't be able to perform for weeks!"
"Go ahead," Arthur challenged. "I wanna see if you can."
"You won't slug me?" Jerome forced him to promise.
"Alright, if you say so…"
After blowing into his hands and rubbing them together for several seconds, Jerome balled his right hand into a fist and launched it at her face as quickly as he could thrust his arm forward.
Unfortunately for him, not only was his punch embarrassingly slow and awkward, but Patty was able to grab his wrist in mid-stride and froze his attack while his punch was still in flight. Before Jerome could react and attempt to break free of it, Patty used her grip to twist his arm behind his back and pressed it against him. "Now, what were you saying?"
"Ahhhh!...Aaaaccck! Let go of my arm!" Jerome pleaded as his voice soared higher in pain.
James and Victor watched with sadistically satisfied smiles while Arthur just had a content grin like his girlfriend had made him proud. He watched with his arms crossed for several seconds before calmly suggesting, "Okay, Patty. Why don't you let him go now?"
Like a dog on command, Patty dropped him from her grasp, causing Jerome to fall to the floor in a heap. While his friends watched in shock, Jerome began standing up as if he were in the middle of an earthquake. "How did?!..."
"Artie taught me self defense," Patty bragged, making it no secret she was proud of herself for being able to subdue him without any trouble at all.
Victor turned to Arthur and coolly asked, "When did you teach her how to fight?"
"I've been working on it ever since Homecoming night," he responded, still keeping his arms crossed. "So we've been doing it for, what, five months or so now?"
"Sounds about right," she agreed in a perky voice.
"So…are all five of us coming?" James asked as he looked around at everyone he was standing in the room with.
"I guess so," Arthur groaned. He still wasn't too keen on the idea of them sneaking underground where they might possibly get killed or have something bad happen to them, never to be discovered or found. "I still think this is a horrible idea."
"As do I," Jerome agreed. "But I must admit, I have never felt so alive…not even when I was about to deliver my first line on the stage back when I was a mere boy!"
Arthur let out another aggravated sigh. "Whatever. Let's just get this over with."